Central forces will not fire first, says Home Secretary

Vinay Kumar

NEW DELHI: Reiterating that the government was ready to talk to the Communist Party of India (Maoist), if the outlawed organisation gave up violence, Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai on Sunday said the Central paramilitary forces deployed in violence-affected areas would not “open fire if they are not fired upon.”

Giving an inkling of the Centre’s strategy to deal with left wing extremism, he said the focus would be on restoring civilian administration and carrying out developmental activities.

“There are areas where civilian administration does not exist. Central forces will be deployed there to secure that area and then roads, schools and primary health centres will be built,” Mr. Pillai said.

“Secured development”

He said the government would secure an area by deploying a few battalions, posting good officers and demonstrating the efficacy of “secured development.”

Mr. Pillai was participating in a discussion on “Insurgency, Human Rights and Media,” organised by the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) here.

He asserted that there was a “fundamental mismatch” in the position of the CPI (Maoist) that they would talk and continue to kill. “No militant group will come to the negotiation table unless it is under pressure.”

On the possibility of a China-Maoist link, he said that it was restricted to supply of arms.

“During the Vienna convention on small arms, only four countries opposed a proposal to have a unique number for all ordnance factories and manufacturers of small arms. These were the U.S., China, Pakistan and Iran, as they control 80 per cent of the business of small arms,” he said.

He named two other crucial factors that had contributed to aggravating the internal security situation — failure to implement the much-delayed police reforms and carrying out judicial reforms and streamlining criminal justice system.

Mr. Pillai said the government, being involved in nearly 63 per cent cases, was seriously reviewing the “litigation policy” to cut down pendency in courts from 15 years to three years. He said the people had a right to ask why panchayat elections had not been held in Jharkhand and why the Supreme Court had not delivered its judgment on the same so far.

K. G. Kannabiran of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said that both sides — the government and the CPI (Maoist) — should stipulate conditions for holding dialogue. “Let the Maoists stop violence and the government call for halting combing operations, say ‘no’ to torture by police and ‘no’ to encounters,” he said.

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